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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Remembering 9/11

Pastor recalls 'the horror that can happen' and the 'goodness that followed'

In a basket on Cherlyne Beck's office floor is a collection of sermons given after Sept. 11, 2001; The New Yorker's special issue on the terrorist attack; and several books written by Lutherans about God's grace. The memorabilia and historical archives are in an easily noticeable spot, a reminder of a defining time in Beck's life: living in New York City on Sept. 11 and the rebuilding that followed.

"I keep them as a reminder of both the horror that can happen and of all the goodness that followed and the people who cared," said Beck, now executive assistant to the Southeast Michigan Synod bishop. "People who didn't live in New York see [the basket] right away when they walk into the office."

jim west<BR><BR>Cherlyne Beck keeps
Cherlyne Beck keeps a basket with reminders of 9/11. She says 9/11 is a "big part of my life and who I am."

"That was a big part of my life and who I am," continued Beck, who was an assistant to the Metropolitan New York Synod bishop at the time and watched the Twin Towers burn and crumble. Looking from her 16th-floor office on the upper West Side of Manhattan, with a clear perspective down the Hudson River, she had a unobstructed view of the World Trade Center about 10 miles away.

"What I remember about the whole experience was that day itself," she said. "Standing there and looking out the windows and watching the buildings go down, and praying together with synod staff."

This Sept. 11, she'll gather with her current staff to remember the day with prayer and stories.

From giving sermons to how God has worked through the tragedy, to lighting candles and praying together, Lutherans nationwide this month will remember the tragedies in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. On the 10th anniversary, which falls on a Sunday, Lutherans will recall where they were on that day and how the event forever changed them.

David Grand, a New York psychologist and trauma counselor, worked with nearly 500 people with issues related to 9/11. Many were Lutheran pastors and staff of Lutheran Disaster Response of New York (LDRNY). He said it's important to mark the anniversary for many reasons—first and foremost to remember the survivors as well as the victims. Survivors need to hear they haven't been forgotten, he added.

"What happens in every disaster," Grand said, "is that all the attention happens in the weeks and months following the event, and as the help recedes, people forget."


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